It probably is too soon and too risky for Labour to talk publicly about coalitions or electoral deals with other parties, but it’s vital that its leaders begin to plan seriously for those contingencies.
As Rafael Behr points out (Labour’s best route to power is coalition, whether the party admits it or not, 30 November), the likelihood of Labour gaining a secure majority in its own right in 2023/24 would constitute a shift in electoral fortunes unprecedented in postwar UK politics. Yet the interests of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Plaid Cymru, and the progressive interests that they all claim to serve, will be best secured by recognising that, in working together, they can not only remove an increasingly corrupt, callous and hegemonic Tory party from office, but also prevent it ever again achieving unfettered power.
If they fail to address that responsibility, they will have little moral authority in challenging the policies of the next Tory government, since they will have facilitated its continuation in power.
Dr Gerald Dunning
Tonteg, Rhondda Cynon Taff
There is a flaw in Rafael Behr’s otherwise excellent piece. Any agreement that Labour makes with the Liberal Democrats will involve enabling them to increase their representation in parliament.
One plausible outcome is that, after the election, the Lib Dems hold the balance of power, with the Conservatives not far from a majority. In such circumstances, the likeliest outcome will be a Tory-Lib Dem government. Sir Ed Davey will go into the election ruling out such an outcome, and he will mean it, but after the election, the possibility of instability will weigh heavily on him. Given that any alternative combination will necessarily involve the SNP, a Tory-Lib Dem coalition in defence of the union may prove irresistible.
Dr Christopher Stevens
Rafael Behr dismisses the left and “continuity Corbynism” with its “socialist self-esteem”. He needs to be reminded that policies of renationalising energy and other utilities enjoy consistent majority public support, and that these policies enabled Jeremy Corbyn to deprive the Tories of a majority in 2017. Keir Starmer campaigned for the Labour leadership and gained my support by continuing with those policies, which he later resiled from.
Gordon Brown and Ed Balls adopted the centrist, business- and finance-friendly policies that Starmer’s reshuffle now implies, and look where that got us. And as your editorial (30 November) suggests, the left-leaning membership of the party will not work with enthusiasm at the next election for a return to Blairism.
Your editorial’s advice to Keir Starmer, that he “should be wary of causing gratuitous offence to the party’s left and its allies”, is somewhat tardy. Tens of thousands have already left the party or are sitting on their hands.
Elected leader with a substantial majority drawn from across the membership, including large numbers of Jeremy Corbyn supporters like me, he simply spurned the opportunity to lead a united party.
Instead, we have seen the steady drift away from the pledges he made, coupled with provocative public comments about how divided the party is and how he is going to turn it around. In truth, on policy matters the party is far from disunited, but Starmer displays little interest in engaging with the views of the membership.
His silence on the massive support of members for proportional representation makes the point. It also shows that he has little sense of what is required to create the sort of broad alliance – both within and beyond the party – that will be needed to oust the Tories.
Meltham, West Yorkshire